St. Clair city and fire protection district officials as well as a local developer are working on finding a fix to a potential low water flow situation in a section of the city.
The area affected is known as Clairtown, or the city’s northeast side, and includes the Meadow Oaks subdivision.
St. Clair Fire Protection District Deputy Chief and Fire Marshal Craig Sullivan told The Missourian there is “adequate” water flow to the area, but the department and the city need to work on a solution to increase that flow.
“It’s low, but we’re comfortable with the water flow there,” Sullivan said. “It’s adequate. But we’re working with the city to resolve the situation as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
The potential problem is because of 4-inch water mains that feed Pasadena Avenue and the entire Clairtown area.
Currently, Sullivan said water flows can be as low as about 700 gallons per minute in that area. He said local fire code calls for a minimum of 1,000 gallons per minute.
“This is an issue that’s been overlooked in the past,” Sullivan said. “We’re trying to fix this mess that probably was created 50 or 60 years ago (when water lines originally were installed).”
The city’s board of aldermen earlier this month approved a proposal from CM Archer Group for a water system hydraulic model update for the area. The scope of services provided will be to perform hydraulic flow tests in the subject area to supplement previous flow data, recalibrate the hydraulic model with updated flow data, provide an opinion of probable cost for improvement alternatives and draft a report of its findings.
“There is a water availability problem which has come to light in the process of beginning the next phase of the Meadow Oaks subdivision,” City Administrator Rick Childers told the aldermen this month. “Required fire flows are established at 1,000 gallons per minute, and the current piping configuration does not allow the system to reach that level.
“While the subdivision itself has been requested to install 8-inch water mains, the lines feeding that area are only 4 inch.”
When the issue came up again during Monday’s board of aldermen meeting, Mayor Ron Blum reminded the officials that the Archer model update had been approved and ordered, but the work had not yet been done.
Childers said one possible solution is connecting to the existing 12-inch main along Moselle Road on the other side of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks.
“But (we) require flow modeling to determine if that approach will be successful before undertaking these costs,” he said.
The agreement with Archer will cost the city $3,980.
“This is not an isolated instance around town,” Childers said. “As water systems evolve, we have a pretty significant amount of areas fed with 4-inch mains.”
Another possibility could be to tie into 6-inch mains along Iron Hill Road. That main connects to 8-inch lines serving Iron Hill Estates.
Going that route would not require digging under the railroad tracks to connect.
Meadow Oaks developer Tyson Quattlebaum has been working with the city for several months on receiving approval to build the next phase of the subdivision. That consists of eight lots to the east of the existing development that gain access through Meadow Oaks Drive from Pasadena.
Last week, the city planners gave Quattlebaum final plat approval for the eight lots, which will consist of both single- and two-family homes. The residences will be located around a new cul-de-sac east of Ella Lane.
Aldermen gave their stamp of approval on the plat Monday through passage of an ordinance, but noted a couple of conditions that must be met relating to the water issue.
The ordinance states that the plat may be signed “upon successful attainment of water and sewer permits as issued by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.” It also states that the plat may be signed “upon successful attainment of a development permit as issued by the St. Clair Fire Protection District.”
Planning and Zoning
Planning board Chairman Myrna Turner told her board members on Sept. 10 that a letter will be included in the plat approval recommendation to the aldermen concerning the water flow issue.
“We want it on the record that the fire department is aware of 4-inch mains going into 8-inch mains,” Turner said at the end of her meeting. “And we want it to be known that the fire department is working with the city to resolve this problem so proper flows can be established.”
During the planning and zoning meeting, board member Doug Komo asked if updating the water lines was the city’s responsibility.
“Yes, it is,” Building Inspector Jeremy Crowe said.
Ward 2 Aldermen Travis Dierker, who also sits on the planning board, brought up the Archer proposal earlier approved by the aldermen.
“We gave our OK for this to be looked into,” Dierker said.
The Archer proposal includes development of the scope of improvements and a model for the first three phases of Meadow Oaks.
“We just want to make sure all of our bases are covered,” Turner said.
The letter that was included with the city planners’ recommendation to the aldermen addressed the issue.
“The planning and zoning board recommends a conditional approval of this final plat,” the letter reads but adds the concerns about the 4-inch mains and the water flow issue.“If approved to develop, the city should move as timely as possible to upgrade this line to achieve the required fire flows. Until such time that the proper flows are established, the planing and zoning commission recommends that the developer disclose to the future property owners in writing that this issue exists and in return the property owners should do the same for any tenants.”
In discussing the situation, Sullivan agreed.
“He (Quattlebaum) is working on the next phase, so we want to make sure we at least come close to what we require (as far as water flows),” he said. “So basically to allow Tyson to keep building in there, the city will have to upgrade to meet our fire codes.
“This is a concern now as well as for future phases, too.”
Sullivan reiterated that water supplies currently are adequate for Clairtown. The potential problem could arise, however, if the city needs to tap into water supplies in two places at the same time in the area.
“If we use two hydrants, we can only drop to 500 gallons a minute,” he said. “I don’t think that would happen currently in some areas.”
Updates will be provided to city officials when they become available.